Bad condition, encroachments cause trouble

Though it has been over two-and-half-years since the Sub-jail Road in the city was thrown open for traffic, especially town buses, the pathetic condition of the road and encroachments continue to give a harrowing time to both traders and motorists.

The road was open for traffic in August 2009 after more than three to four decades during which it had come to be occupied entirely by onion wholesale merchants, iron and scrap merchants, truck operators and other small traders.

The move by the then City Police Commissioner Karuna Sagar was intended to ease the congestion on the Palakkarai area and Madurai Road, but it not seem to have delivered the intended results. Though the traffic volume has been substantially reduced on the Madurai Road stretch between Palakkarai and Marakkadai, the traffic congestion has just been shifted to the Sub-jail Road. Civic and police authorities have still not been able to prevent the onion merchants from using the roadsides for trade. The road has not been developed and strengthened adequately to take the heavy traffic either. The road, heavily eroded and battered by the recent rains and heavy traffic, presents a picture of neglect. Potholes dot the short road stretch running for less than a kilometre. Even after a recent inspection by the Mayor and Corporation officials, no action has been forthcoming, traders complain.

“Though it provides an important access to bus commuters to the Gandhi Market from the Central Bus Stand, the poor road and dusty conditions make for a very difficult ride for even heavy vehicles. Trucks, loading and unloading onions and scrap, are parked on the roadsides throughout the day and traffic snarls are the order of the day,” says R.Gopalakrishnan, a city resident.

Though the onion merchants had planned to shift the market to an own site at Ariyamangalam on the outskirts of the city, the move has been stalled owing to a court case, traders say. “Establishing an integrated wholesale market is the only solution to the problem. We are willing to move out, if we get a proper market,” says A.Thangaraj, general secretary, Tiruchi Onion Commission Mandi Traders Association.

Traders allege that police officials, in fitful actions against encroachers, seize their weighing machines and onion bags. “We are tired of such actions. We are alive to the problem, and even tried to start our operations early in the day; but labourers were not willing to come,” Mr.Thangaraj says when pointed out about the traffic congestion caused by traders occupying roadsides.